Relationship-Based Service Learning

Executive Service Impact Service Learning Philosophy Statement

We believe that the most effective service learning flows out of our relationships, rather than making assumptions about what people need without knowing them as individuals. It is a practice grounded in mindfulness and connectedness that is increasingly validated by neuro-science as important to developing good learners and motivated citizens. By deeply listening to our community partners, we work together to strengthen our communities, and we are more skillful and effective in working towards social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Relationship-Based Service Learning

Quality of relationships/partnerships – “Service learning” implies a mutual relationship – service and learning.  Relationships are the most important benefit to service learning.  We design service experiences with a focus on developing meaningful individual and institutional relationships with our service partners.  These relationships are collaborative, mutually beneficial and address community needs.  Relationship-based service learning is a profoundly unique experience (i.e. difference between working at a soup kitchen for a few hours and helping a friend or friends that are homeless).

Duration of relationships/partnerships – Executive Service Impact’s (ESI) focus is on developing long term individual relationships and institutional partnerships.  Service learning allows work to develop over a longer period, resulting in stronger, deeper relationships and more effective service work.

21st Century skills development – Participants face serious, complex challenges (environmental, economic, political, social, etc.) that require creative, proactive, interdisciplinary problem solving.  ESI’s programs provide our clients opportunities to develop leadership, advocacy, communication and cultural literacy skills that they need to be effective social change agents.

Real world understanding of problems/issues – Participants need to be effective, problem solving citizens.  Our participants gain a first hand perspective of the multiple challenges and obstacles that our service partners struggle with on a daily basis.  Some of the issues that these individuals and communities face include: acute poverty, lack of access to health care, poor educational and employment opportunities, alcohol and drug addiction and high rates of crime.

Learning differently – Participants process information both cognitively and emotionally.   Brain research is beginning to show that people use more of their brains when learning in this way.   This results in participants developing personal qualities – humility, confidence, empathy and motivation to want to make a difference.

Diversity  – In working with and just being with people with very different backgrounds and life experiences, participants integrate various perspectives on the same issue, develop mutual respect and replace stereotypes with accurate information.  Service learning is a very useful tool in teaching socioeconomic and cultural diversity.